THE RAGER! – 434: The Two Sides of the CM Punk Reign (Part 1)

With some time to kill before Extreme Rules and with, I think we can all agree, nothing all that exciting going on right now, I believe now is a great time to really look back at all the great moments of the celebrated title reign of CM Punk.

The Face Half
Of course, we all know the story the summer of 2011. It was the moment Punk elevated himself into the upper echelon in WWE and brought a lot of fans back in the hopes of something new, fresh and (most importantly) fun. Once Punk came back and spent a couple another month in the championship picture, the company had him take a step back into feuds with Triple H and Awesome Truth (I refuse to count Kevin Nash). A lot of people were discouraged that Punk was getting shuffled back down the ranks but I choose to look at it in a different way. After the Money in the Bank match in 2011, Punk reached a point where he had no choice but to be a face. This time against Triple H and Awesome Truth was like a molding period to figure exactly the kind of face character Punk would be: a brash, sarcastic but truthful character with a touch of arrogance. Punk elevated himself to be level with Cena in the WWE food chain, which came in handy when Cena had to focus on The Rock, Kane and then Rock again.

That takes us to Survivor Series 2011, the match that started it all. Punk won against Alberto Del Rio in a match that I would label as “solid.” It was the right opponent and the right venue, the MSG crowd would’ve been in Punk’s pocket regardless if he was a face or heel and facing an opponent that posed a big enough threat in that Punk would beat and feel like a big deal. CM Punk hopes a couple barricades, tousled Michelle Beadle’s hair and we could’ve cared less about Rock and Cena facing Awesome Truth.

A few weeks later (and after sparring with Johnny Ace) Punk gave us a great moment at the Slammy Awards. This doesn’t necessarily mean much to the overall legacy of the title reign BUT, we sure does make me giggle.

At TLC, we had Punk’s first PPV title defense in a Triple Threat Ladder Match between himself, The Miz and Alberto Del Rio.There were a LOT of great things about this match and if you ever get a chance, definitely go back and rewatch it. Sure Miz is terrible and Alberto was on the downward spiral but having Punk in the mix makes all the difference. Add in some drama with Punk getting handcuffed to several things and Ricardo’s sick bump that almost turned him into a super hero, and we have a fun match.

I would like to highlight the night after TLC. No, nothing groundbreaking happened but we did get a great opening from Punk where he gave an intro that really let it sink in that he, Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder were all champions. Then you top that in the main event where those 3 men walk in from the Philly crowd as the IWC squealed their little pants off.

We move into 2012 with Royal Rumble. Punk defended against Dolph Ziggler, a match that a lot of people either overlook or forget about but it’s easily one of my favorite from the year. Sure, the stench of having Johnny Ace present during the match was thick but these two wrestlers put on a hell of a match with a surprisingly clean finish.

January 30th, 2012: Monday Night Raw. Nothing monumental happened BUT we got a CM Punk and Daniel Bryan match. This was big because it was the first in a string of Punk vs Bryan matches as Johnny Ace and Teddy used these wrestlers in an attempt to one-up each other in their struggle for power. It worked well because it was a period of time where WWE didn’t quite want to announce who either wrestler would be facing at Mania, so they had a short feud with each other. Also, in this particular match, we saw Jericho’s run-in on Punk so that laid their ground-work.

February 13th, 2012: Monday Night Raw. Again, nothing monumental except for the Elimination Chamber debate. Punk was good, Jericho was good, Miz tripped all over his own lines. Even Kofi made us believe for a quick second that he had a chance. However, I threw this in because it gave us R-Truth’s shining achievement of his career when he vowed to trade Dolph for a box of spiders.

Elimination Chamber: Solid match but kinda weird that it was opening the show, especially once the WHC match came down to Bryan and Santino and then the snoozefest of the am-bah-lans (Booker’s words, not mine) match at the end. Furthered Punk and Jericho for Mania so we’re all happy for that.

February 27th, 2012: Monday Night Raw. The first promo between Punk and Jericho which led into another Punk and Bryan match. What’s not to love?

Wrestlemania 28: Punk vs Jericho. Really didn’t need the last minute added stipulation but it led to Jericho holding his head out and begging Punk to hit him with a chair. Easily the best match of the night and should’ve been a contender for match of the year. It was a great straight up-and-down match that had a lot of great, personal build-up and I think as time goes by, we will look back on this match as one of the best in Mania history.

Weeks after Mania: Jericho really loves pouring alcohol over Punk.

Extreme Rules 2012: Punk vs Jericho in a Chicago Street Fight. Personally, I prefer this match rather than their WM28 match because I’m a writer and I foam at the mouth for a good story. This was ultimate personal ending to this feud in Punk’s hometown. This match took the period at the end of this feud and turned it into an exclamation point.

April 30th, 2012: Monday Night Raw: Daniel Bryan wins the Beat The Clock challenge and officially begins his feud with Punk. The internet loses control of their bowels.

May 7th, 2012: Monday Night Raw: Most would say this was a terrible episode of Raw BUT I was in attendance and we saw the return of Paul Heyman…more on that next week.

Over the Limit 2012: Punk vs. Daniel Bryan. What was suppose to be one of the worst PPVs on WWE’s yearly calendar ended up being one of the best, largely due to this match. There really wasn’t too much of a story between the two going into the match and I was really worried that this was going to be a one-time thing. Thankfully, pin-by-accident ending happened and we got even more.

May 21st, 2012: Money Night Raw. Punk presented Kane as Bryan’s opponent which led to their rivalry and that led to Team Friendship…you’re welcome.

May 28th, 2012: Monday Night Raw. Punk was revealed to be on the cover of WWE ’13. I hope Punk got to keep that giant poster.
Also, Punk digs crazy chicks.

June 6th, 2012: Monday Night Raw: Punk called Bryan “Goatface.” Funny at the time but driven into the ground ever since by Lawler. Not everything in Punk’s legacy is gonna be great,

No Way Out 2012: Punk vs Daniel Bryan vs Kane. First off, this match gave us my personal favorite video package of the year. This entire month leading to this match became more and more about AJ’s relationship with all 3 guys so we knew she would have some involvement. There was a lot of story in this match, and I tend to like that but the ending left a little to be desired. Good match, which is pretty rare for a triple threat match but this is the beginning of when we really see great things between Kane and Bryan.

Money in the Bank 2012: Punk vs Daniel Bryan w/AJ as special ref. This was simply a great end to this well-told story. You take the great technical match Punk and Bryan first had at OTL and you add in all the story-telling done at NWO, mix the two together and you get this match. Having AJ leave during the match gave Punk and Bryan the ability to focus only on the technical aspect and when she returned, we pick right back up on the story. Punk and Bryan fighting over the chair while AJ hung back and watched was easily one of my favorite visuals ever. This was probably the most fun matches I have ever witnessed but sadly, it ended the wonderful feud of Punk and Bryan.

July 23rd, 2012: Raw 1000. Big Show interfered with Punk and Cena’s championship match, attacks Cena. Rock’s music hits, Punk leaves the ring. Rock sprints to the ring and goes after Big Show. Rock levels Show and runs the rope for the People’s Elbow, Punk slides in the ring and clotheslines Rock. Rock sells like a fish out of water. CM Punk puts Rock to sleep, walks away. “CM Punk has turned on the WWE Universe.”

To be continued…

Be sure to check the kickstarter for our animated short film “Moon Bear.” Only a few days remain and we still have a ways to go!

Don’t do anything I would do twice,
Chris

The Answer: As of right now (Tuesday) it’s April but by the time you see this, in the words of the great Justin Timberlake, “It’s gonna be May.” All credit goes to Joel Leonard.

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